Backcountry Camping with Children
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Hiking socks and boots
Warm fleece and fleece hat
Few pairs of pants & underwear
Hiking shoes and socks
Blanket for each child
Several 1 piece outfits
Formula & dispenser
Bottles and water
Sleeping bag & pad for each person
Kid Carrier for each kid
Battery Lantern and headlamp
Bowl and spoon for each person
First aid kit
Bearspray, snakebite kit
Extra plastic bags and ziplocks
Toilet Paper - half role +
Lots of water and juice
Apples, carrots, oranges
Cold cerial in baggies
Freeze dried dinners
Pudding and fruit cups
Fruit snacks, vanella wafrs
PB & J Sandwiches
Very young children
Camping Gear for Backpack
Clothing for hiking
Comfortable driving shoes
Cell phone/wallet/keys/chap stick
Once you get comfortable hiking with your children, the next big step is to do an overnight backpacking trip. For most people, just getting out hiking should be plenty but if you went backpacking pre-children, you will want more. With a little more effort and weight, you can accomplish a nice little backpacking trip with your family.
If the kids are young, you’ll need to keep the hike short to the campsite, around 2-4 miles. Once camp is set, you can day hike from there without all your camping gear. When looking for a place, pick a location the kids will enjoy…a lake, small creek or nice forest. This is sometimes difficult as many hiking trails go awhile before reaching a nice destination.
Picking a Place
You’ll need the same gear as you would day hiking with children but with the extras for camping. You’ll need to learn how to pack light just to keep the weight manageable. You don’t need all that crap that you think you do! Here is what I bring…..
You’ll have to mix it up a bit depending on your kid’s ages. A young family with one child, one parent carries the child while the other carries all the camping gear. Easy! With 2 children, one adult carries the youngest in a front pouch while carrying a backpack with all the camping gear. The other parent has the older (much heavier child) who hopefully walks most of the way but eventually must be carried, creating one heavy load. If you have 3 children, the oldest is (hopefully) over the age of 3 and is able to walk the entire distance
As always, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the kids. In a wilderness area, it is a bit more likely the animals will have a little less fear of humans depending on the level of hunting allowed in the area. As always, I never let my young kids further than 10 feet from me if I can’t see a long distance.
When my son was one, I did a 3 day, 30 mile hike on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. The section of trail was the hardest section of the 94 mile loop. I put all our gear in a duffel bag and tied it to the bottom of my child carrier along with a tent, sleeping bag and pad. The weight was excruciatingly painful at times as the backpack wasn’t designed for that weight but it worked and was one of the best trips I’ve done with kids. Read the full story here.
For the Hardcore
Camping at Cliff Lake, Uintas UT - Under 2 miles to the lake
Camped high on Abercrombie Mountain, NE Washington
Hiking into the Backcountry of Yosemite National Park. In this circumstance, I was carring the kid and my wife had the backpack. In a simple summer trip like this with one child, the gear pack was about the same weight as the kid carrier loaded up....around 28 lbs.